The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has petitioned the United Nations, UN, over the “detention, torture, and other ill-treatment of Omoyele Sowore, and four other Activists”, on Tuesday.
SERAP in a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said that it has sent a complaint to the Chairman/Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, José Guevara Bermúdez.
In the complaint dated 4th January, 2021, SERAP stated that the detention of the Activists constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty, because it does not have any legal justification.
“The Working Group should request the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the bogus charges against Mr. Sowore and four other Activists, and to immediately and unconditionally release them”, the statement partly said.
It added that the arrest, continued detention and torture, and ill-treatment of Sowore and the four other Activists, solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended), and international human rights law, adding that they are now facing bogus charges, simply for exercising their human rights.
SERAP also called on the Working Group to initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the detention, torture, and bogus charges against Mr. Sowore and four other Activists, and to urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian government, inquiring about the case generally, and specifically about the legal basis for their arrest, detention, torture, and other ill-treatment, each of which is in violation of international human rights law.
SERAP is also urging the Working Group to issue an opinion declaring that the deprivation of liberty and detention of Mr. Sowore and four other Activists, is arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international human rights law.
It also urged the Working Group to call for their immediate and unconditional release.
“We urge the Working Group to request the Nigerian government to investigate and hold accountable all Police Officers and Security Agents suspected to be responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and torture and other ill-treatment of Mr. Sowore and four other Activists.
SERAP also asked the Working Group to request the Nigerian government to award Mr. Sowore and four other Activists. adequate compensation for the violations they have suffered as a result of their unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment.
It further argued that a detention is arbitrary when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty, adding that, Article 9 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which confirms the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, guarantees that no one shall be deprived of his liberty, except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
“The Human Rights Committee has interpreted this right to mean that procedures for carrying out legally authorized deprivation of liberty should also be established by law and State parties should ensure compliance with their legally prescribed procedures.
“Pursuant to the mandate of the Working Group, the “Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council” and the publication “Working with the UN Human Rights Programme, a Handbook for Civil Society”, SERAP, a non-governmental human rights organization, can provide information on a specific human rights case or situation in a particular country, or on a country’s laws and practices with human rights implications.
“SERAP therefore argues that the case adequately satisfies the requirements by which to submit an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“SERAP is therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the continuing detention of Mr. Sowore and four other Activists to be arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law.
“Accordingly, it is hereby requested that the Working Group consider this Individual Complaint a formal request for an opinion of the Working Group pursuant to Resolution 1997/50 of the Commission on Human Rights, as reiterated by Resolutions 2000/36, 2003/31, and Human Rights Council Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, and 24/7.
“SERAP respectfully requests the Working Group to initiate the procedure involving the investigation of individual cases toward reaching an opinion declaring the detention of Mr. Sowore and four other Activists to be arbitrary and in violation of international human rights law. To this end, SERAP will pursue the regular communications procedure before the Working Group, in order to have the ability to provide comments on any response by the Nigerian government.”
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